Monday, September 12, 2011

Painting Wood Furniture - brush edition

I've had a few people ask me how I like to refinish wood furniture.  Truth is... I don't really do it the same every time.  Sometimes I spray paint, sometimes I brush, sometimes I use a foam roller.   I think I've even used a paper towel at one point (GASP! And I lose half my readers... all 2 of you :o)

When I refinish something, I want it to be beautiful and durable.  Perfect is not in my vocabulary anywhere... including refinishing furniture.  But it is always beautifully imperfect with character :o)

Get your furniture to a good open work area with plenty of ventilation (cause you're gonna need it!)

I found this piece by a stroke of good luck.  It is a refinishers dream.  A DIY project gone bad.  REAL BAD.  I don't like painting over beautiful wood and, at one point, I think this was mahogany (what were these people thinking ?!?) It had been painted orange and then had a layer of brown painted over it. 

  And this is why you should always use soap and water before painting over something... there was a greasy mess under this paint and it peeled right up.
Exhibit A

So I peeled off what I could and used my new baby (I call her Sandy :)  to take off the rest.  This is the single best tool I have ever spent money on.  I got her on clearance at the Black and Decker outlet.... I think she was about $18 after all of the discounts were taken off!  The reason I really like this particular sander is that it has removable heads.  It can be a detail sander, rotary sander, or 3 other options I haven't even played with yet... it's GREAT!!  Before I got her, I sanded many a piece with sandpaper though, so that will work just fine!!!

Remove your hardware and sand until your heart is content using a 220 grit sandpaper.  If your furniture has a glossy finish, make sure it is completely gone before starting the next step.  This part is vital to the durability because it gives the primer a surface to grab hold to.
When your furniture just can't take any more sanding, wash your surface with soap and water to remove all of the sanding dust and grease (see exhibit A above if you need a reminder of the importance of this step)

Let it dry thoroughly while you get your priming supplies ready.  I like to use Zinnser Bullseye 1-2-3 primer for pretty much everything, mainly because it sticks to everything!  Brush on using a foam brush (I use the cheapo craft ones) and let it dry.  A tip that I have taught myself (being the impatient, compulsive person that I am) is do this just before it gets dark so you can't actually see when you are done... that way you HAVE to let it dry overnight :)
Now you are ready to paint!  Pick out your color, I chose an oops sample I found for .50 at some time or another.  It was PLENTY to finish this project.  The kind of paint you choose is really dependent on the look you want.  I always use flat latex paint because I like the way it covers.  I cover it with poly later so it doesn't look so "flat" in the end. And here is where you have a choice.  You can choose to brush, roll, or spray. 

 I will be doing a different tutorial for spray painting in the future.  I try to reserve that for smaller pieces because it takes a lot of spray paint which can get pretty expensive. 

I chose to brush this piece.  What is the single most important thing that will make it look professional in the end?  The brush you choose!  Don't go with a dollar store brush (Trust me, I have!) Spend your money on a good brush that you can use over and over.  It is well worth the investment.  I use a Purdy :)

Brush on a thin coat of paint and let dry for a couple hours.  I like to gently sand again, clean, and brush on another coat.

When it looks like you want it to look, seal it with a coat of polyurethane.  My personal favorite is Minwax Wipe-On Poly in Satin because it is SO EASY to apply and goes on super smooth!  After the first coat dries, sand lightly with your 220 grit sandpaper, clean, and reapply.  This will give you an extra layer of protection (go ahead and do it a third time around if you want!)

Reassemble and she's all ready to be put in her new home!

Okay, I know a lot of you don't know me all that well, but I have a tendency to not stop here.  I like to make things different, extraordinary.  I took this piece a step further... check back tomorrow to see how this baby turned out!  

Hope you have a fantastic Monday!



  1. I love it!! Gosh you're soo creative.. :)

  2. I am already in love with it!

  3. Found you on BNOTP - great tutorial! Your work is awesome!

  4. How do you create the huge lettering for the top of desks tables etc?

  5. PS Just to let you know, I'm so stu_ _ _ about blogging - don't really know how to do I just used anonymous - sorry for that, I don't' know how to used anything else!

  6. Hi Katie,
    which outlet did you get your sander? do you remember? Since we live here in Georgia also, my husband said he would go look for me as he travels about.

    All the best to you and your little family,


  7. OMG Thank you!! Gonna pull the trigger on my craigslist find (really cool wood sideboard/buffet.) I've had it about a month, removed the hardware and doors just didn't know where to start. Short & sweet and hit on EVERYTHING I was unsure about. Thank you for sharing :-)

  8. Thank you for sharing this interesting and informative article, painting with airless spray gun will be faster and more interesting!


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